Art Ross, bitch.
The day is finally here.
We reveal the big deal behind the Bing pic.
When we made the call to arms for the larger version of the Bing pic,
there was no way in hell of knowing that we were gonna get an unreal e-mail.
BETSY directed us to her blog.
And we were stunned.
Betsy's brother, David, was responsible for this.
We wanted to hear from David personally how he went about doing it.
It started with an email. Betsy just sent me a photo over email and said "this would be a great present for Robbie, will you do it for me" so I obliged. She just told me to "go nuts" so I had to take that challenge and do something non-traditional. I started by printing out the picture and, using my Artograph projector, blowing it up to a larger scale on a bit of blank wall in my apartment. This is how I decided on the size of 21" X 40" for the final painting. I’m not much of a "work from imagination" kind of guy, and I've always been better at copying. But what artist doesn't copy, from life, from nature, from photographs or models? I must say then, that the best tool in any artist's arsenal is a projector.
The next step was to pick a surface to work upon. Canvass is too delicate, paper too thin, so I chose to use Medium Density Fiberboard, or MDF....available at the local hardware store. A quick whitewash of gesso or acrylic paint (I used KILLZ to make it faster) and I was ready to begin.
I wanted to be as true to the nature of the photo as possible, but painting every individual groove in the surface of the ice would have been tedious and time-consuming. I finally decided to use mixed-media to achieve the effect. By gluing strands of all-purpose sewing thread onto the board, the 3-dimensionality would cast shadows on the surface that would simulate skate lines. Using a watery mixture of Elmer's glue in a dish, I soaked each individual thread and hand-pressed them onto the MDF. I started with 100 threads...but only made it to about 40. In hindsight, I wish I could have put exactly 87 threads on the surface.
Using the projector, I then traced the outline of the figure onto the board. I needed to know where his outline was so I could sever the threads with an Xacto knife and peal up the excess. Otherwise, the skate lines would appear to go through the figure, ruining the effect.
I wasn't happy with the thread lines at this point. It was still too contrived. The lines were too uniform, and didn't appear random. While looking at the photo, you can see places where the ice had melted back over the grooves in the ice, making them deeper in places and shallow in others. So I bought some pure white drywall putty (for filling nail holes) and scraped it over the surface of the board sort of randomly and haphazardly. After some drying time, I used three grits of sand paper to smooth the surface back out. The effect was complete.
Inside the outline of the figure, I still had the problem of an irregular surface from where I had peeled off the excess threads. So, I had to spend a long time sanding down the surface to make it uniform again.
After all sanding was complete; I wiped off the dust with a damp rag. Then I painted the entire surface again, applying three more coats of KILLZ with a 6" roller. The final coat was a mixture of 20 parts KILLZ, 1 part ultramarine blue acrylic paint, and 1 part orange acrylic paint. The mixture created the final appearance of the ice, giving it just enough dark patchy areas to complete the effect.
Using the projector, I then traced the outline of Crosby’s shadow on the ice lightly with a mechanical pencil. I taped off the outside of the outline with blue painter’s tape and rolled on a darker mixture of the same colors, adding a tiny bit of sap green. After it dried, I peeled off the painter’s tape using a hairdryer to loosen the adhesive so it wouldn’t pull up any of the paint layers below it.
All that remained was to paint in the actual figure. At this point, It was about 10pm, the night before I was leaving town. So with the help of my mother (a graphic designer who gave me all my art talent), I finished painting in the figure, all the letter and logos on the jersey, etc. We probably stayed up until 4am that night finishing it. It required about 15 different colors of paint and various mixtures thereof. 20 different kinds of brushes, and a few blown-up printouts of the penguin’s logos on the jersey. Probably the most difficult parts were the pin-striping on the letters and numbers, or the details on the helmet.
Betsy took the painting home with her the next day, and per my request sprayed on a few coats of clear acrylic varnish (clear coat) spray paint. I run a small frame shop, so later I chopped a 2” semi-glossy black frame to put around the painting. It looks nice above their fireplace.
Your move, Stephen S.
MATT P. with the 666 pic. What a milestone.